Julie Gabbott, who has been a leader for Dragoman Overland since 2013 has received the top award at Wanderlust magazine's 13th World Guide Awards. Julie was presented with the Gold Award by renowned travel writer Bill Bryson at the ceremony, held at London's Royal Geographical Society.
Julie who guides for Dragoman in their iconic orange overalnd trucks which go all over the Americas, Africa and Asia; taking the road less travelled and getting away from the tourist trail share their mantra of "it's the journey, not just the destination".
Several of Julie's past clients were in the audience at the prestigious ceremony along with many of Dragoman's UK based staff to see Julie win Gold. The judges were won over by her empathy, humour and passion and comments from nominations including being “the best guide I have encountered in 40 years of adventure travel” and “she did something much more valuable than many other guides I've travelled with: she gave a bit of herself to help me”. Lyn Hughes, chair of the judging panel revealed, “Julie impressed every single judge; her fun but determined personality shone through in the dozens of testimonials we received from her grateful customers. She has clearly inspired and transformed the lives of others, and left us all awestruck at her accomplishments.”
Julie is planning on splitting her winning bursary of £5,000 between Zara Charity in Tanzania (which works towards powering schools for Maasai children) and a charity supporting female victims of genital mutilation in Sierra Leone.
The industry experts who judged this year's awards include: Wanderlust co-founder and editor-in-chief Lyn Hughes; experienced wilderness and adventure guide Myles Farnbank; travel industry guru Derek Moore; author, photographer and TV wildlife expert Mark Carwardine; and Gill Russell from Craghoppers UK. At the ceremony, the panel were also joined by previous judges including legendary travel writer Bill Bryson, while Kate Humble and Simon Reeve sent video messages of support.
Julie has had a passion for adventure since a young age, leaving her home in Preston at 19 to search for her next adventure. Before beginning her successful career as a tour guide, she designed self-drive tours and managed a ski company. She is now a real support to her team, training colleagues as well as leading trips all over the world, and has a strong willingness to help others as well as a considerable amount of empathy.
Charlie Hopkinson, Dragoman's Business Development Director commented, "Julie has worked for Dragoman for 5 years now and has consistently wowed her groups with her commitment, personality and hard work; we are immensely proud of her. She represents all that is good with Dragoman tour leaders and the training and methods that these guys get and use to succeed in this very challenging role. Dragoman is immensely proud of our tour leaders and crew and the training and hard work from our operational team that builds the platform for them to shine. They have perhaps the most challenging of all tour leader roles, that of an Overland Crew and by and large they are all pretty amazing. There are some though, that simply shine from day one and Julie Gabbott is one of these - Well Done Julie!"
Julie is the latest of a select band of crew who have won this wonderful award since its inception in 2006; namely, Gaetano Barone (Silver Award 2011) Luca Alfatti (Gold Award 2012), Hannah Walker (Highly Commended 2013) and Charlie Jaques (Silver Award 2014).
Julie said, “It was such a privilege to be listed alongside such amazing guides from around the world and to come out with the Gold has left me completely overwhelmed and really feeling the love. As an overland leader I would not be anything without my fellow crew mates and I do thank them for their endless support, patience and humour on the road. It also wouldn't be possible without my Dragoman family back at HQ in Debenham, Suffolk. My bosses and everyone at HQ always believe in me, even when I sometimes doubt myself! Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all the passengers that have travelled with me over the years and for making me love this job so much. An adventure is only as good as the people you share the experience with".
The next tour that Julie is leading for Dragoman is their "Western Trans Africa" from Dakar to Cape Town over an impressive 134 days with highlights including spotting pygmy hippo, lions and elephants, the Great Mosque of Touba in Senegal, Butterfly Mountain on Mont Kluto and the double storey mud huts in Tata Somba.
For further information contact Alex Downing, Dragoman 01728 862233